I've a good deal to say about your calling my last letter
“particularly unpleasant.” In the first place this
- some time ago you wrote me quite a number of unpleasant
things which I have been hearing from you and others for over
fifteen years now - and that's a long time - about domestic
And especially added to this “that you are
suspicious.” If it had only been the former, it is
probable that I should have paid no more attention to it.
But your additional remark about your suspiciousness was a
bit too much me, and I have repeatedly begged you to withdraw
the word or to explain it, for I will not tolerate such a thing
being said to me without my asking for an explanation.
In my last letter I compared suspiciousness in general to
looking through black glasses.
And I said the ugliest misunderstandings were caused by
And this is true.
If you on your part turn this inside out now, and
write me, “You make me think of old people who are always
saying that in their young days everything was better,
meanwhile forgetting that they themselves have changed,”
this does not stagger me in the least.
The thing we were discussing was suspiciousness, which
was not mentioned by me but by yourself, i.e. on your part
with regard to me; first apply what you say about old
people to this, and after that see whether it may apply to me.
If it does apply to me after that - then I shall have to
As to what I wrote about a certain atmosphere at home, which
I have more opportunity to observe than I care for, I am much
afraid it is only too true.
As in your letter you ask me how it is that you no longer
hear me say, “I should like to be like this or like
that” the fact is that in my opinion those who
proclaim most loudly that they “want to be like this or
like that” are the ones who try least to improve
As a rule those who say it don't do it.
If I should want to utter some such wish, I should hardly do
it in the atmosphere of our present relations.
So this is the cause - and seeing that I strenuously
exert myself to improve my work there is no need for me to be
forever lapsing into wishful exclamations.
I am sorry you did not send L'Illustration, for I have
followed Renouard's work pretty regularly, and for many years I
have saved up what he did for L'Illustration. And this is one
of the most splendid, which I think would delight you too.
When one orders the old Illustrations in the bookshops, at
least here, one does not get them. I do wish you could get it
for me. If it is too much trouble for you, then forget it, but
heaven knows it is not so much trouble after all.
And - apres tout - please note that with regard to that
suspiciousness, and what I wrote you by way of rejoinder, this
was not done so much because I won't suffer you and others to
think whatever they like of me, but I cautioned you that it
would give you little satisfaction if your character congealed
in that mold.
Considering that you say repeatedly that you know me better
than others do, and that it still all ends in suspicion, then
it is serious enough for me to protest against it, to protest
firstly against that “knowing me so well,” and
secondly against “being suspicious.” I went through
such an affair with Father - I decline to start all over again
with Father No. II.
If I had resisted Father from the start instead of remaining
silent, nothing much would have happened.
So don't resent me telling you unreservedly what I think of
it. That is better for both of us.
And if I insist on taking vigorous measures, it is to
obviate the possibility of quarreling. For the
possibility of a quarrel is gone at the very moment I
find the means to cover my financial needs. Then my work will
no longer be at issue, and now it is.
Therefore don't despair. But now it's wretched for both of
Thanks for the remittance.
Ever yours, Vincent
* And to me my work is valuable; I must paint a lot - and
therefore I am continually in want of models, which - at a time
when my work is difficult and exhausting - is an additional
reason for thinking it rather dismal to get suspicions in
exchange. Never mind, it is a period I have to go through, and
one does not paint in order to have an easy time of it.
At this time, Vincent was 31 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written early February 1885 in Nuenen. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number .
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